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The Female Perspective: The Men of “Walking Dead”

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


Last week I explored three of the female characters on The Walking Dead and discussed their roles as feminists. Today, I want to revisit the show but discuss the men this time because it’s fun to see where they have come from and what they have become as the show has gone on.  So let’s take a look at three guys from Walking Dead and see what we end up with!

Hugs, they all need hugs!
Hugs, they all need hugs!

I want to remind everyone that I’ll be speaking only in terms of the TV show and not the comic, I am also trying to leave out any possible spoilers for the current season!

You don't want to make Rick angry.
You don’t want to make Rick angry.

First off, my personal favorite and the leader of our merry gang of misfits, we have Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln). Rick is the first character we see on Walking Dead as he chats with his partner Shane about the marital troubles he’s been having with his wife Lori. Rick is quiet and seems honestly confused as to what his wife wants from him. Not to mention, he couldn’t believe the things she was saying to him in front of their young son Carl. You can see right away that he is a guy who cares about his family and is trying to do his best by them. You know though that there is more to him than that. Once Rick awakens from a coma to a world stricken by a zombie apocalypse he quickly takes action (after some time being heartbroken and scared) to locate his family. As the show progresses, he takes the role of leader (albeit, reluctantly) and does his best to keep them safe. Does he always make the right choices? No. Does he suffer when he makes the wrong ones? Yes, he does. Does he always have to make the hard choices? Yeah, he sure as heck does. Rick is a man built to survive, he won’t die because he has to protect his family, his people. He will kill everyone and everything that gets in his way but recently, he’s made peace with his violent side and his “Dad” side. He seems to have found an uneasy balance between the two by trying to be the man he needs to be in order to keep his family safe. For all intents and purposes, he is the hero of this piece.

Hershel Greene = The Moral Center of the Group
Hershel Greene = The Moral Center of the Group

Next, let’s talk about Hershel Greene, poor, sweet, doomed Hershel (played brilliantly by Scott Wilson). At first, I thought Hershel was a creepy old man who couldn’t come to terms with the apocalypse. Some of that was true, he was keeping zombies in his barn in case there happened to be a cure. He is a recovering alcoholic and a spiritual man. He turns into the groups spiritual, moral center. The one they go to when they need counsel and more importantly, Rick would often turn to him for advice (even if he didn’t always agree with it). Hershel was trying to be human in a world that was killing humanity off (both spiritually and physically) and he was not meant to survive for very long. He couldn’t and watch the world burn all around him. He was a lot like Rick in many ways, though he was able to hold off from becoming a killing machine whereas Rick could tap into that when needed.

Daryl & Beth, a great team.
Daryl & Beth, a great team.

Finally, I want to talk about Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus). Daryl is a character created for the TV show and is sadly not in the comic. He is a man who before the apocalypse was a troubled, racist, redneck with the potential to become a drug addict and was most likely a murderer. After the apocalypse, he becomes a hero. He finds his true purpose and is able to deal with the apocalypse with an ease that many of the characters are unable to find. He holds his emotions in check most of the time but recently, we’ve started to see chinks in his armor. He has befriended Carol and Beth (oh Beth) and has become a trusted friend to Rick and the others. He is like Rick in a lot of ways too in that he makes the hard decisions (Sophia comes to mind) and is able to tap into his killer side while also maintaining connections and friendships.

What I’ve found in looking into both the male and female characters of The Walking Dead is that they are all painted with the same brush. Some of them step into their roles in the apocalypse with more grace than others. You see characters like Carol who have really come into their own but at the same time, who also know that some part of their humanity has died and characters like Daryl who become better because of the apocalypse. His humanity hasn’t died, it has flourished in these years after the apocalypse. What’s great from a female perspective too is that none of these men have time to be sexist, they don’t treat the women as wash maids or cooks, they treat them as equals. Rick often takes Michonne on patrols or dangerous missions. Or, more importantly, he often keeps her to look out for Carl and Judith. Daryl treats Carol not as a potential plaything, but as a friend, as an equal. Plus, we rarely have to be subjected to a “damsel in distress” situation, heck, sometimes the guy’s in distress and has to be saved by a woman!  The beauty of Walking Dead is that the writers (and actors) do an amazing job of making us want to see these characters transform and it makes us like them (even when we dislike them), and it makes me wonder, who (or what) would you become in the apocalypse?

Tell me what YOU think of the Men of Walking Dead!

Post-apocalypse what survives? Your life or your humanity?
Post-apocalypse what survives? Your life or your humanity?